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Gustav’s arrival this week serves as a reminder that hurricane season is well underway. This year’s season is already an active one, and forecasts call for more of these deadly storms in the coming months. AmeriCares has been responding to hurricanes for more than 25 years, providing relief supplies and medical expertise throughout the U.S., Caribbean, Latin America and other regions around the world. John Connell, AmeriCares director of emergency response, has participated in dozens of hurricane relief efforts for more than a decade, and stresses the importance of hurricane preparedness for U.S. residents within the hurricane belt.
“Hurricanes are one of the few natural disasters that we are able to prepare for in advance. The most important advice I can give is to listen to the local authorities and evacuate if you are ordered to do so,” says Connell. “In addition, people living in the hurricane region should always have an emergency plan and a disaster kit ready.”
Connell recommends that disaster kits include bottled water, non-perishable foods, a first aid kit, flashlights with extra batteries and bulbs, a battery-powered radio, and copies of important documents and papers, particularly insurance information, sealed in a water-proof bag. He also advises making a run to the bank and the gas station well in advance of a storm, since ATMs and gas pumps won’t work if there is no electricity.
“Many people forget to plan for their routine medical needs,” Connell adds. “People lose their prescription medications and need refills. During hurricane season, it is helpful to store a one-week supply of medication separately if possible, and also have your doctor’s contact information readily available in your disaster kit.”
Hurricane season runs from June through November along the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean regions. Support AmeriCares relief efforts around the world.